Texas: Stay of execution for Ramiro Gonzales two days before execution
A Texas appeals court has temporarily stayed the execution of Ramiro Gonzales. He was sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and killing a female colleague in 2001 when they were both 18 years old. Gonzales, now 39, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Wednesday before the court intervened.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday found Gonzales had convincingly demonstrated that an expert witness who testified at his sentencing hearing had provided “false” information about the extent to which he could pose a future danger – an essential element of the legal basis for a death sentence.
During the sentencing phase of the 2006 trial, a psychiatrist named Edward Gripon claimed that people who commit sexual assault have an “extremely high” recidivism rate of up to 80 percent. Gonzales’ attorneys argued that later expert testimony indicated there was no evidentiary basis for that figure. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals remanded the case back to the trial court for further consideration.
In June, Gonzales appealed to Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stay the execution to give the 39-year-old time to donate a kidney to a stranger to, as his lawyers put it, “atone for his crimes.” A death row organ donation is not the only unorthodox part of the Ramiro Gonzales case.
Psychiatrist Gripon concluded that Gonzales showed signs of “antisocial personality disorder” after spending three hours with him – a finding that would influence his testimony during the death penalty trial. The doctor later told The Marshall Project he had doubts about that diagnosis and about the overall accuracy and usefulness of predictions about future dangerousness.
In prison, Gonzales did yoga, earned a bachelor’s degree at a Bible college and began writing sermons for the prison’s radio station. The Texas attorney general’s office could challenge the appeals court’s decision.